2014 Senior Theses
The Big Drift : An "Odyssey" Through "Film Noir" and Immersive Installation Abstract
In the following pages and the corresponding body of work, I explore the role of the spectator in the creation of a work of art. I have created a series of interactive tableaux, in which I reimagine Homer’s Odyssey through the medium of installation art and the stylistic lens of film noir. I discuss these works using the philosophical framework of phenomenology, and questions of authorship and the birth of the viewer. I will trace a history of installation art through the work of several artists who have engaged with these concepts and in whose work the viewer takes on the role of "detective."
Body Presence Abstract
The understanding of how we experience and object plays a crucial role in how to create art that relies on its viewer’s reaction. With art, there is the possibility to concentrate on and expand upon a specific phenomenological response in a way that the experience of the everyday cannot. This thesis follows the explorations of the mechanisms of Phenomenology within Minimalist and Postminimalist sculpture to subsequent transformation of both the philosophy as well as the approach in more current art. An analysis of the tradition of the phenomenological experience of the viewer in both Minimalist and Postminimalist sculpture offers insight into understanding how to apply the phenomenological experience to current works of art. Minimalist as well as Postminimalist sculpture utilized Phenomenology to explore the bodily experience of its art, and it accomplished this through manipulations of size, scale, and industrial materiality. In more recent works, there is a redirection of the phenomenological exchange between art object and viewer into a more direct confrontation with the body. By moving towards an increase in the awareness of the body without an imposed narrative, both that of the viewer as well as the figurative body, art demonstrates its potential to further increase the sense of connection between a work of art and its viewer.
Nouveau Gallery : The White Box Re-Imagined Abstract
In this written studio art thesis and corresponding body of work, I critique traditional modes of gallery display using Brian O’Doherty’s concept of the White Cube gallery and explore the artwork and methods of artistic display that came from an attempt to escape this traditional gallery space. I have created a pair of interactive installation pieces that play with concepts of spectatorship and curation as forms of artistic expression, and humorously demand direct audience participation in order to be fully actualized. Through this thesis, I will question the hierarchies implicit in various modes of viewing art and trace the conceptual framework of my work back through the last century of installation practice.
In Memoriam Abstract
The work I have created for my thesis is an attempt to give form to the failing of language. It is an exploration of silence and an attempt to encapsulate the gravity and consequence of the dissolution of meaning. I consider my work this year a memorial to the knowledge an experiences that will never be communicated.
Gillian Fiona Spencer
Take a Break From Now : Future Youth Abstract
Take a Break From Now: Future Youth is a large sculptural installation that filly encompasses the viewer. It is represented, through packaging and promotional brochures, as a commercial product. It can be disassembled and reassembled anywhere that can accommodate its size (8 x 8 x 11 ft.). The accompanying written thesis, of the same name, is also a commoditized sculptural object – it takes the form of a professional exhibition catalogue, funded by a non-existent museum, compiled by its curator, and contributed to by various non-existent people.
Worn : Figuring the Body in Clothing and Trash Abstract
This thesis combines scholarly investigation with the praxis of art-making in order to bridge the gap between people and their trash. In response to the increasing amounts of waste produced by consumer culture, I examined the history of trash as a social phenomenon. Based on this foundation, I explored the possibility of a relationship between refuse and the body that resembled, in many ways, our conception and use of clothing. The result of this research was a set of garment-inspired sculptures that acted as surrogate bodies for my trash, forcing the viewers to interact with the remnants of everyday consumption.
Maria Maita Keppeler
Look Again : Formation of Mixed Race Identity through Revisitations of "Ukiyo-e" Abstract
This thesis explores the identity formation of mixed race individuals through the use of Japanese woodblock printmaking, as influenced by traditional ukiyo-e prints. It begins with a chapter dedicated to introducing the reader to ukiyo-e prints created during Japan’s Edo period with an examination on Kitagawa Utamaro and Katsushiga Hokusai. It then looks at more recent artists who seek to explore mixed race identity and others who seek to revisit traditional ukiyo-e prints in order to understand and comment on contemporary society. It ends with a chapter dedicated to a discussion of my work in relation to the ukiyo-e tradition from which I draw inspiration, and to the recent movements of understanding mixed race identity through art.
Chroma Field Abstract
This thesis is an attempt to provide a site for the restructuring of contemporary attitudes surrounding the conditions of the generally abstract, but differentiated, categories of real, digital, and virtual forms. The project consists of the construction of an installation incorporating painted, video-based, readymade, and software-based works – but should not be considered analogous to sculpture. In this installation, I will foreground the production of real time, a condition that ties real, digital, and virtual. Along with this, and certain forms of viewer-oriented participation I aim to investigate distinctions between real, digital, andvirtual space as well as re-introduce ideas of embodiment into an otherwise mechano-centric paradigm of digital art. This installation draws upon contemporary technological methods of image production and manipulation (commercial and artistic), as well as tropes from the romantic period, works of conceptualism and early installation art, and the discourse surrounding the emergence of New Media practices and the digital turn. Although much of the vocabulary surrounding the objects of the former statement may lend discursive substance to the kind of work, space, and time produced in this installation – these frameworks should be considered rough guidelines. The work itself is a product born out the constant pushing and pulling of different aesthetic and conceptual inquiries, but seeks to have separation between the different frameworks informing the process. In a sense, I hope to eliminate any hierarchy between the elements present in the writing and in the work. By introducing a hierarchical structure, I would in a sense, be projecting a sort of objective or positional statement onto the work. This may be effective if the aim of my artistic practice was to produce a statement, but rather I am more interested in producing the machinations that organize and work to construct the ever present and formless now: real-time and Real Time coinciding. Real-time for our purposes indicates the computational speed by which any data can be interpreted[AM1], rearranged or re-performed, approaching the conditions of the other, Real time[AM2], a phrase I use to indicate the human perception of linear time passing, producing the "newness" of each successive moment. I oppose working from a "statement" based framework, in the case of this model the work presupposes its own end – it leaves no room but for itself to be contained in a circular trajectory, reaffirming and reproducing its own value. The kind of work I have produced is indebted to the real-time nature of process and flow, academic, artistic, and experiential. I am interested in, most simply, experiential time informed by computer time.
Situation, Orientation Abstract
This thesis explores architecture that is conceived from the perspective of the body and whose design prioritizes considerations of lived experience. Such works of experiential architecture engage the senses in their multiplicity and simultaneity, heightening awareness of body, architectural form, and environmental context. This approach to architecture begins from a phenomenological understanding of experience as grounded in bodily engagement with the world and first emerges in midcentury works of humane modernism. Exemplified by the practice of Finnish Architect Albar Aalto, humane modernism challenges the dominance of style, technology, and rationality over considerations of lived experience in modernist architecture and calls for a reorientation of the design process around the sensing body.
Contemporary architects Peter Zumthor and Steven Holl continue this effort to re-sensualize architecture in the present day. Both Zumthor and Holl begin the design process from a phenomenological understanding of experience, drawn directly from the philosophies of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Their experientially-driven works use material and formal elements to elevate bodily experience and draw attention to the at once physical, perceptual and psychological encounters that comprise the lived experience of architecture. These phenomenological considerations ground the creative portion of this thesis, in which I design and partially construct a small building on the Reed College campus. Throughout this process, I engage the practices outlined above to guide the experiential considerations of my design. These considerations I attempt to balance with the physical and functional realities of building design and construction, to create an architectural experience that heightens awareness of self and environment while advancing the desired functions of my building.
Subtle Interplays : the actions and reactions between artist, materials, and process Abstract
This thesis Subtle Interplays: the actions and reactions between artist, materials, and process explores delighting in making, in process, in materials, in evolution, and in aspiration in completing rather than solely exulting in completeness and the end product. The body of work is comprised of curious porcelain pots, shards, groundscape watercolors, small Roman glass jar watercolors, weft and warp paintings, ground pigments, and small collages. The written portion of my thesis has the shape of Anne Truitt’s Daybook. It is a series of meditations on my state of consciousness, my approach, and what I experience while in the act of creating; the process and progression of my works; the role materials play; and responses to what I am reading, other art work, and events in my life, all used as a means of further developing my work and myself.